Washington DC is an amazing place to visit and it is one of the best cities to find affordable attractions and experiences for your enjoyment. Not everyone is traveling with a huge budget to put toward having fun, but never fear, there are many fun free things to do in Washington DC and you will not be bored on your visit, even if you are on a tight budget.
Once you have arrived in the city, make sure to take the time to drop off your bags at Bounce luggage storage in Washington DC. Being free of heavy bags will make it much easier to have fun while you visit this city and peace of mind about your storage solution doesn't hurt either. Once your bags are safe and secure, you can start enjoying the free things to do in Washington DC.
Free Things to Do in Washington DC
Visit the National Mall
The National Mall is an amazing and historical experience that you can enjoy for free. This is one of the key areas that you will want to add to your must-see list in the District. When you visit the National Mall, you can wander through amazing memorials like the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial as well as take in the atmosphere at the Reflecting Pool.
This is one of the best things to do in Washington DC with kids because they will be mesmerized by the sights and the sounds. You will be standing face-to-face with American history when you visit this location and there are few places in the city that so completely exemplify what Washington DC is all about.
Check Out the Supreme Court
Many people are not aware that the supreme court offers open seating on a first-come, first-served basis. These seats are available before court sessions Monday through Friday and you do not have to pay to witness the highest court in the United States attending to its duties. There are also 30-minute lectures here about how the court functions that take place periodically throughout the day.
This is a really moving and special experience because many people will never get to sit in on any court proceedings during their lifetime, let alone court duties of this magnitude. If you love the law or are interested in learning about how the Supreme Court does its job, this is the right activity for you to enjoy during your stay.
Visit the Capitol Building
Head here to take part in free tours that are offered throughout the day. You will be able to learn more about the history of the US government and you can choose to sit and watch the US congress at work. Balcony seats for sessions are free and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis as well.
Tickets for both of these experiences are handed out quickly, so you will need to make sure that you arrive early to pick yours up. This is a great choice for those who have always wondered what goes on behind closed doors when policy-making is being done. Make sure to take a few photos of the stunning national capitol columns before you leave.
Holocaust Memorial Museum
This is a free museum that is moving and that tells important stories about racism and what we have learned from it over the years. There is a lot of moving material that is covered in the exhibits in this museum and you will want to head here for an emotional and educational experience. Tickets for the Holocaust Memorial Museum sell out quickly, so you will want to go online to get yours the day before you wish to attend.
This is a location in Washington DC that tells a critical set of stories and that can help us all to broaden our horizons and improve our awareness of important issues.
The Smithsonian is not only an amazing place to go to enjoy amazing exhibits on all kinds of subjects, but it is also free. You can come here to enjoy the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, the Smithsonian Gardens, and more.
This is one of the most amazing collections of art, history, and artifacts anywhere in the world. You will love everything about your visit to these amazing places and you will probably run out of time trying to get through all the exhibits during your visit.
There are actually various Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC that are represented on the site and the general name does not do justice to all of the art and history that you can experience here in a small area.
The National Archives
Have you ever wanted to see the Declaration of Independence in person? If so, you need to head to the National Archives. This is a spot that is also home to one of the last remaining copies of the Magna Carta. History buffs will have an amazing day here and will leave replete with amazing historical knowledge and happiness.
You will want to add this to your list even if you are not interested in the other exhibits at the National Archives. Seeing the Declaration is something that no one should miss out on when they visit Washington DC.
The National Gallery
The National Gallery of Art has art on display from masters like Monet and Leonardo da Vinci. There are pieces of all ages and genres here to enjoy as you wander through the many galleries. Art students often come here to paint and to practice and you will love watching them hard at work on their craft.
The National Gallery is the perfect place to drop in for free access to some of the most timeless and special art that has ever been created. The National Gallery in Washington DC is usually near the top of people's lists for places to visit when they are in Washington DC.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
This memorial to one of the founding fathers is one of the most beautiful buildings in the capital. This memorial commemorates Jefferson's love for architecture and culture. You will be amazed by the serene and airy building that seems to have been dropped into the capital from another time. This is a memorable and moving spot to visit and no trip to Washington DC is complete without a stop here.
Korean War Veterans Memorial
This is one of the most famous memorials along the Mall. This memorial was made for the millions who fought and died during the Korean War. The 19 statues here represent all the soldiers who were involved in the conflict and the strips between them are meant to represent rice paddies. This is a haunting and very moving memorial that offers you insight into the emotions that this conflict embodied.
The 19 statues of the Korean War veterans almost appear to be looking right through you and you expect them to stir and start moving as you pass by. This is a place that is hard to deny and you will leave feeling humbled and better connected to the shared American history that this memorial represents. Just like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, this commemorative experience has a lot to say.
The National Zoo
The zoo in Washington DC is actually part of the Smithsonian and is also free for your enjoyment. This park is 160 acres in size and there are 1,800 animals that are represented here. This zoo was one of the first in the world to create a research center and this is still one of the leading zoos in the development of improved medicine and care for zoo animals everywhere.
If you have kids with you, this can be a great place to visit, but people of all ages love this zoo. There is something really undeniable about being able to see majestic animals in action and the zoo promises you all of that and more.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
This is one of the best hikes in Washington DC and you will have lots of fun during your visit here. The views of the Potomac River are incredible here and the trail is only 1.6 miles long. This hike is right within Washington DC and it is friendly for all ages. The footbridge that leads to the island is memorable and you can easily get here from public transit if you are not staying in the area.
Rock Creek Park
This is one of the original parks that was ever created in the United States and it is located right within Washington DC. You can head here for horseback riding, hiking, or a guided tour of the park. There are historical buildings that are still on site here and you will feel like you have stepped out of the big city into the quiet of the country as soon as you arrive. Rock Creek Park is a really amazing place to head if you are dying for some nature during your stay.
Martin Luther King Memorial
This incredible memorial is a recent addition to the National Mall in Washington DC, having been completed in 2011. This is the first memorial to honor a person of color on the Mall and snippets of his "I Have a Dream" speech are scattered across the faces of the monument. Visiting the Martin Luther King memorial is a must-do item and you will not be disappointed in this stop.
The Mall offers many amazing memorials to see and they range in age. This being the newest of the memorials gives it a uniquely fresh and bright appearance that many of the older memorials do not. You will be able to wander through a whole host of memorials that evoke emotions and that tell the story of the United States in various ways.
The White House
Perhaps the most iconic building in the United States and Washington DC, if not in the world, the White House is free to visit on certain days. You will have to book a tour weeks in advance, so this is one of the things that you should plan well before you head out for your visit.
The original White House was burned down by the British in 1812, and it was not actually white. What you are visiting when you stop in today is a building that was put up in the 1970s. You will be able to learn about all kinds of US history during this tour as well as hear about the personalities that have lived within its walls.
This is the most iconic building in the nation's capital and you will probably want to at least drop by to see it from the street. You will get far more from the free tour, but just witnessing this unique and special building can be very exciting as well.
Arlington National Cemetery
The Arlington National Cemetery is the site of the final resting place of thousands of soldiers and the home of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They also do the changing of the guard here, which is a very memorable experience. Astronauts, explorers, soldiers, and presidents have been buried here and you can find out where specific graves are located if you wish.
The iconic rows of crosses and headstones here could belong to Civil War Soldiers, peacekeepers, foreign nationals, and other people who have served the United States in a time of need. This is another emotional and moving place to visit in Washington DC that will humble you and make you feel the weight of the human experience.
While not a comfortable experience for some people, this is a place to go if you want to understand the true weight of freedom and what it means to be allowed to enjoy it.
Washington DC Has Lots of Enjoyable Free Experiences
There are so many really incredible free things that you can do when you visit the nation's capital. Most places that have so much art, history, and beauty to offer will charge for the privilege of seeing it. This is not the case in Washington DC, and you will be able to spend days wandering through free exhibits and sights if you wish. This is one of the most cost-effective cities to visit due to all the free things that are on offer here.
If you are planning your trip to the nation's capital, you will want to make sure that you use this list to help you to save some money while still having an amazing time. Most of these sights and exhibits are all in the same relative location as well, which makes seeing them all relatively easy. You will be able to enjoy a day full of fun tours and sightseeing with ease when you decide to head to Washington DC for your vacation.